Leadership | Diversity | Inclusion

Women in Leadership Christmas special

“I think the biggest gift to women in 2015 was the demise of Tony Abbott as prime minister,” television presenter and journalist, Tracey Spicer told a CEDA audience at an Adelaide Women in Leadership event.

“We now have more women in Cabinet, a woman as Minister for Women, and a leader who clearly links domestic violence with gender inequality, so Merry Christmas Malcolm Turnbull,” Ms Spicer said.

University of South Australia Business School Pro Vice Chancellor, Professor Marie Wilson moderated the discussion and asked the guests to nominate their proudest achievements in 2015. 

Author and journalist, Catherine Fox said her favourite 2015 moment came after Justin Trudeau had won the Canadian election. When asked why he had created a 50/50 gender split cabinet, he simply said, “Because it’s 2015.” 

Jara Consulting Principal, author and ABC TV regular on The Gruen Transfer, Jane Caro said that the fastest growing group among the homeless, is women over 55.  

“They were the women I went to school with … they were the good girls who did what they were told – you don’t need to go to university, you just marry, have children and you’ll be looked after, and they thought they would be. And their reward for all of that is to end up living in their car,” Ms Caro said.

“I think it’s been a watershed year for feminism and two things have done that: Rosie Batty and the focus on domestic violence – what a relief that we’re finally talking about this and getting it out in the open – and the other thing is the absolute explosion of female comedy.

“There’s a huge change now in the way we are seeing women in the screen and the way women are talking about themselves and this is so important.” 

Tracey Spicer agreed there had been shifts in the media industry towards women. 

“Having worked in television for almost 30 years, I’m accustomed to seeing our currency crash as we get older … but in the last couple of years I’ve really seen things change in my industry where women of our age are being sought after, not just in on-air roles but in management roles as well,” she said.

“I got the shock of my life when I got the call from ABC TV and ABC Radio saying ‘we want your demographic on air’. I almost fell off my chair.

“From the moment I walked in there and saw all the women that I would be working with and working for … after all these years in commercial television and only ever working for one woman … it’s been tremendous.”

When asked for her 2015 wish list, Catherine Fox said she’d like to see more corporates abandon all the ‘tick-a-box’ measures they’ve put in place to get more women up through the ranks, such as expensive, time-consuming mentoring schemes and unconscious bias training, neither of which are actually producing results. 

“My money is with the interventions. If you want more women in senior ranks, I’ll tell you what John Macfarlane the ex-CEO of the ANZ said many years ago, ‘promote them’,” she said.

Jane Caro said that, aside from Hillary Clinton winning the US presidency, she’d like to see “More women appearing in television commercials, in programs, in films, who are normal sized, or even a little bigger than normal sized … it makes me feel so validated.”

“If we could just lose this idea that we need to be perfect, because we aren’t and we can’t be and we shouldn’t have to be,” she said.
“We can be just as damned lousy, ugly, fat, and smelly as the blokes and still entitled to whatever they’ve got, that’d be the gift I’d give to the future – be fat, be ugly, be flatulent and still be entitled to absolutely everything including respect.”